As part of our ongoing series to highlight specific presentations from Banking Transformation Week, we’re featuring an interview with Doug Nielson, SVP at US Bank, and Jane Barratt, Chief Advocacy Officer at MX. The interview is titled “Value-Added Banking: A Win-Win for All” and includes discussions around innovation in financial technology and banking.


You can watch the video or read a few highlights below.



Highlight #1: View Banking as a Journey

“We look at things at the bank as though we're on a journey,” Nielsen says. To do this, his team constantly asks, “How do we make banking a whole lot more easy and friendly?”


“Most consumers don't wake up in the morning and say, ‘Oh, I really want to think about banking,’” he continues. “They want to be able to just transact without friction — simply and easily.” Nielson labels this process as “moving toward digital maturity” and says that the first step is “making things DIY.” This leads us to personalized financial automation.


Highlight #2: Offer Personalized Financial Automation

Nielson envisions a future of personalized financial automation. “It’s like the autonomous car,” he says, which gets a person where they want to go after just a few inputs from the user. Similarly, automated banking gets people to where they want to go financially with little to no effort. Nielson aims to provide an experience where a customer can tell their bank, “You have enough data, you have enough permission from me. Just go ahead and do it so I'm not wasting time on activities that don't add value to my day-to-day life.” As this experience becomes a reality for customers, they’ll see improved financial strength.


At a certain level, giving automated advice is already a reality for leading banks today. As Jane Barratt says, “Advice can be data-driven. It can be automated. It can be real time. It can be highly personalized. Not personalized to the segment level — personalized to me.”


Highlight #3: Streamline the Mortgage Process

Another essential aspect of a do-it-yourself financial approach has to do with the onboarding process for mortgages. Nielsen says that customers used to ask, “Do I really have to send you my entire filing cabinet worth of paperwork to get a loan or even just get preapproved for a mortgage?” He says that previously the answer was yes, but that they’ve since worked with the fintech company Blend to streamline the process. “It was good for us,” he says, “but it was great for the customer so they could get that answer one way or the other a lot more quickly.”


Highlight #4: Implement Data, AI, and Voice Assistants

Data also plays a pivotal role in reaching digital maturity and creating value-added banking. “I think a lot of it is about ramping up our data strategy — both leveraging the data that we already have and taking it out of the silos and being able to actually use it,” Nielsen says. He adds that they plan to use “AI and machine learning in a responsible way so we can provide the insights that our customers are wanting.”


“AI is an area that we’ve really got to obviously focus on,” he says. Specifically, they’ve focused on virtual assistants and voice banking. “I think voice is going to take over,” Nielsen says. He envisions a future where you can tell a digital assistant that you want to take a trip to Costa Rica, and it instantly finds the best options and gives you recommendations. “I'd like to think banking could get there as well,” he says.


Highlight #5: Change the Culture

When he speaks about US Bank, he says, “The innovation culture is being more and more embedded across all of the bank, from the vice chair level down.” He adds that “the direction from our CEO is that we're going digital and we're going there as fast as we safely can.” As everybody at the bank understands and adopts this direction, US Bank is a key player in the process of building value-added banking.